The first wave of Orange County food halls gave us poke with an ocean view in Huntington Beach, gourmet New York-style pizza in downtown Santa Ana and Indian street food in a century-old packing house in Anaheim.
Now the second swell of culinary walkabouts is emerging. And, let me tell you: Get ready for a tsunami.
“This is going to be a dining mecca of international concepts,” said Kenny Liu, leasing manager for The Source, a mega-entertainment and food complex in Buena Park.
Within The Source, a food hall dubbed Square Mixx is coming next year. It’s one of two international marketplaces in the works in Orange County. The other is a Vietnamese-themed food hall in Little Saigon.
McFadden Public Market in Santa Ana opened last month. And in Irvine, TRADE, at 2222 Michelson Drive, celebrates its grand opening on Saturday, May 13.
Surprisingly, Irvine’s first food hall is being developed on a parcel of land not owned by the Irvine Co. Though we suspect the city’s largest landowner has culinary aspirations for the ex-Macy’s space at Irvine Spectrum Center.
TRADE, formerly Michelson Marketplace, is a joint effort between Lincoln Property Co. and Alcion Ventures. The two companies have spent roughly $5 million converting the aging food court within the 32,000-square-foot strip center into an open-air hall.
Like McFadden, TRADE has tapped experienced operators from buzzy concepts such as Dos Chinos, Slapfish, Afters Ice Cream and GD Bro Burger to bring fresh food stands to the center near John Wayne Airport.
“We had to get these guys who had the following to bring people here,” said Parke Miller, executive vice president of Irvine-based Lincoln Property Co.
Restaurants by Andrew Gruel opened last month. The creator of fast-casual seafood sensation Slapfish has developed yin-and-yang concepts Two Birds and Butterleaf.
At Butterleaf, Gruel is following the veggie trend with produce as “drool-worthy” center-of-the-plate creations. The menu features…